Thursday, September 21, 2017

Counter Clerk (photofinishing) - Viewed Through the DOT

One of the most irritating jobs that vocational experts love to identify as light work with occasional use of the upper extremities.  More often than they should -- more than once ever -- we will see a vocational expert giving that occupation in response to an occasional interaction with other people.  We examine that claim through three data points:  the middle three digits of the DOT number; the physical requirements found in the SCO; and the temperaments in Labor's other files.

1.  The DOT

249.366-010 COUNTER CLERK (photofinishing)

    Receives film for processing, loads film into equipment that automatically processes film for subsequent photo printing, and collects payment from customers of photofinishing establishment: Answers customer's questions regarding prices and services. Receives film to be processed from customer and enters identification data and printing instructions on service log and customer order envelope. Loads film into equipment that automatically processes film, and routes processed film for subsequent photo printing. Files processed film and photographic prints according to customer's name. Locates processed film and prints for customer. Totals charges, using cash register, collects payment, and returns prints and processed film to customer. Sells photo supplies, such as film, batteries, and flashcubes.
GOE: 07.03.01 STRENGTH: L GED: R2 M2 L2 SVP: 2 DLU: 86
The narrative implies or explicitly states that this occupation involves working with the public.  OGC is dense and does argue that we can't infer more than occasional contact with other people.  That means the person isn't busy during the day and will then have other duties, i.e. a composite job.  Never underestimate how OGC will twist to save a bad ALJ decision from relying on false vocational expert testimony.  But we really want to look at those middle three digits:  data, people, things.
3.  Compiling
6. Speaking-Signalling
6. Feeding-Offbearing
The middle digit, the first 6, is the code for people.  See DOT Appendix B.  Since our mission involves contact with other people, we go there.
6 Speaking-Signaling: Talking with and/or signaling people to convey or exchange information. Includes giving assignments and/or directions to helpers or assistants.
That is the people function of counter clerks.  That is the core function, so core that it is coded straight into the DOT code for all to see without reading a long narrative.  The occupation involves speaking with people to exchange information.

2.  The SCO

The SCO describes the occupation of counter clerk as requiring occasional reaching, handling, and fingering but frequent talking and hearing.  Apparently the speaking code for the DOT number matches the selected characteristics of the occupation, communication is more important than physical function.  The SCO defines our terms:
Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word to impart oral information to clients or to the public and to convey detailed spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly. In Part A, the rating for the Talking component appears second in the second set of Physical Demand ratings under the vertical
heading Ta.
Clients and the public are the object of sentence "counter clerks speak to ..."

13. HEARINGPerceiving the nature of sounds by ear. In Part A, the rating for the Hearing component appears third in the second set of Physical Demand ratings under the vertical heading He.
Counter clerks have to listen.  They aren't paid for pitch or detecting rattles, they are paid to listen to customers, frequently.

3.  Temperaments and the RHAJ

The files compiled by all services (West, SkillTran, US Publishing) describe counter clerks as having the temperament for P -- dealing with people.  The Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs, the taxonomy for the DOT and the SCO, defines dealing with people:
Dealing with PEOPLE: Involves interpersonal relationships in job situations beyond receiving work instructions.
Gets curious doesn't it.  Involves interpersonal relationships beyond receiving instructions.  Counter clerks have an essential job function of dealing with people.

We can now conclude that the DOT number conflicts with vocational testimony that counter clerks involve occasional or less interaction with the public; the narrative conflicts; the SCO requirements for talking and hearing conflict; and the temperament for dealing with people conflicts.  The ALJ has to resolve the conflicts.  And we know that vocational experts will say darn near anything to keep the gig at SSA going.

We addressed the number of these jobs in a prior blog.

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